Chicago’s top sports teams are making an impact in local communities through their charitable arms. We asked each team to tell us more about these nonprofits, their achievements and how players and coaches get involved.
Nonprofit: Chicago Cubs Charities
Mission: To provide increased access to sports opportunities and target improvements in health, fitness and education for those at risk.
Impact: “Since the Ricketts family took control of the team in October 2009, donations totaled more than $17.5 million. Last year alone, the Cubs and Cubs Charities and Cubs Care, a fund of the McCormick Foundation, supported charitable grants and donations of more than $3.4 million, which reached more than 66,000 children and young adults in nonprofit programs across Chicagoland.”
Charitable players: “We are very proud of our players, coaches and Cubs wives who play an active role in creating a lasting impact within our community. They not only donate their time, they also donate their energy and resources to help building the next generation of Chicago all-stars. Together, they made more than 180 community appearances in 2015.”
Nonprofit: Bears Care
Mission: To support targeted programs in education, youth athletics and health awareness focused on breast and ovarian cancer research and treatment.
Impact: In 2015, Bears Care invested nearly $2 million in our community through grants and in-kind donations.
Charitable players: “We have many players involved in the community and in philanthropy in a variety of ways, through support of Bears Care, through engagement in community events supporting not-for-profit partners, through their own foundations, and through their own service.”
Biggest achievement: For over 20 years, Bears Care has supported and fostered collaboration among the best and brightest clinicians and researchers in Chicago who focus on finding a cure for breast and ovarian cancer. Funds are raised to support this pillar of its mission through the annual Bears Care Gala, which this year will be held on June 4. In addition, through its Real Bears Fans Wear Pink program, Bears Care extends its reach across Chicagoland to help underwrite diverse programming that offers care, assistance and support to survivors and their families.
Nonprofit: Chicago Blackhawks Charities
Mission: To support programs and institutions that work toward creating a better tomorrow throughout Illinois.
Impact: Fundraising has seen over a 214 percent increase since 1997, allowing the team to grant $2.2 million dollars in 2015.
Charitable players: “All of our players play a large role in Chicago Blackhawks Charities by attending events, helping raise awareness and through signing memorabilia to then be donated and auctioned off for charities.”
Nonprofit: Chicago Bulls Charities
Mission: To give back to the community by contributing time, materials, resources and financial donations to organizations that share the team’s commitment to education, health and wellness, violence prevention and military support.
Impact: “Last season, the Bulls organized over 100 community events focused on youth education, youth health and wellness, violence prevention, and the military. This work impacted the lives of more than 30,000 people, and it was done by more than 1,350 volunteers who dedicated more than 6,500 hours of their time.”
Charitable players: “Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol were two of 10 players who were chosen by the NBA as finalists for the 2014-15 season-long NBA Cares Community Assist Award in recognition of their outstanding charitable contributions and philanthropy. The Bulls were the only team to have two players as finalists. Joakim Noah also received the 2014-15 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for his anti-violence efforts through his work with the Bulls and his foundation, the Noah’s Arc Foundation. This award is presented annually by the Professional Basketball Writers of America (PBWA) to the player, coach or athletic trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community.”
Fun fact: The Chicago Bulls were named the inaugural ESPN Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year in July 2015.
Nonprofit: Chicago White Sox Charities
Mission: To provide in-kind support as well as financial and emotional support to hundreds of Chicago-based organizations fighting cancer, improving the lives of youth and those offering support to children and families in crisis.
Impact: White Sox Charities has donated more than $25 million since its inception in 1990, striving to improve the quality of life for Chicagoans of all ages, races and genders.
Charitable players: “The White Sox are fortunate to have a roster of players and team staff that embrace our outreach efforts and actively participate in events and programs to support the mission of Chicago White Sox players. The culture of getting involved and giving back starts with Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and resonates in the clubhouse and throughout the entire front office and organization. Many of our players including Jose Abreu, Chris Sale and David Robertson go the extra mile providing personal time and financial support to a number of community impact initiatives.”
Fun fact: “This year we not only celebrate the 25th anniversary of U.S. Cellular Field, we also are celebrating 25 years of grant giving for Chicago White Sox Charities — with more than $25 million donated since our inception. And our 25-man roster is off to a great start this year. The power of 25!”
Nonprofit: Chicago Fire Foundation
Mission: To improve the quality of life throughout Chicagoland by leveraging the team’s resources and expertise in the area of soccer to provide sports-based youth development and direct-service programs to underserved communities.
Impact: Almost 70,000 hours of soccer have been played through the P.L.A.Y.S. (Participate, Learn, Achieve, Youth, Soccer) program since 2013. More than 65,000 youth, who otherwise might not have had the opportunity, have been able to attend a Chicago Fire game since 2006.
Charitable players: “Eric Gehrig has gone above and beyond to support the foundation. He has volunteered his time to assist with our community programs, cook and serve food at Nando’s Restaurant, and walked the runway in a fashion show to support our efforts.”
Nonprofit: Sky Cares Foundation
Mission: To actively empower youth and family initiatives, inspiring women’s programs, veteran’s support, health and wellness programs and diversity and inclusion.
Impact: “Through the All-Star Reading Program the Sky is proud to be an advocate for literacy and education for the youth of Chicago by partnering with libraries and schools with existing reading initiatives and rewards each student with two complementary tickets upon completion of the program. Hoops for Health is an interactive school assembly program for elementary school children to learn about exercising and eating healthy.”
Charitable players: “Sky forward Elena Delle Donne is one of the team’s most active players in the community. She is the reigning WNBA MVP, a Global Ambassador for Special Olympics and a National Ambassador for Lyme Research Alliance. She recently created the Elena Delle Donne Charitable Foundation, which supports Special Olympics initiatives and generates awareness for Lyme disease. This offseason, forward Tamera Young has also been very active in the community. She has volunteered alongside Clerk Mendoza and Chef Henry from the Palmer House at multiple Culinary Kids events throughout the Chicagoland area, led basketball drills for students in low-income areas and visits schools to speak with students about the importance of eating healthy foods and maintaining an active lifestyle.”
Big achievement: “The annual Fitness Festival is a huge hit every year with Girls in the Game — engaging 400-500 youth every year to promote healthy and active lifestyles.”
Nonprofit: Chicago Wolves Charities
Mission: To form ongoing relationships with corporations and organizations with a commitment to improving the quality of life for families, individuals and animals throughout the Chicago area.
Impact: “We believe have a tremendous impact on our community simply by doing whatever we can each day — whether it’s finding homes for more than 1,300 dogs through our Adopt-A-Dog Nights or using the money raised from our “Stick It To Breast Cancer” night to supply mammograms for those who can’t afford them. We strive each day to maintain and improve our ability to help our community.”
Charitable players: “This season, our captain Pat Cannone has been our most philanthropic player. He has volunteered for so many projects and created the program “Pistol’s Pals” in conjunction with Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation and Little Heroes Pediatric Cancer Foundation to bring patients and their families to games. In years past, the late Tim Breslin and Dan Snyder definitely set the tone with their dedication to off-ice endeavors.”
Big achievement: “Fifteen years ago, we partnered with Chicago’s Animal Care and Control to find homes for dogs. Don Levin, our team’s owner, has been a hands-on benefactor for CACC for a long time and, via monthly Adopt-A-Dog Nights at our games, we have found homes for more than 1,300 dogs. We do our best to raise funds and our fans support so many of our causes, but finding homes for these dogs has been our most unique and fulfilling project so far.”